Copyright Laws & the Music Industry


     This weeks readings were quite interesting and really got me thinking about copyright laws. Prior to this course, I knew copyright laws existed however in many ways thought I was not directly affected. However, in everyday life we are all taking photos, music, videos etc. and often without proper sourcing or payment. Often when I purchase music it either has to be very good or somewhat “free” (i.e. a gift card, ITunes card). Perhaps this rationalization is somewhat sad. I believe we are living in a society where online material ought to be fast and free. 

      I think this week readings really tied in great with last weeks, and how new media and the “Big 5” are controlling everything, everywhere! With the case of Napster, the music file sharing system, the Big 5 existing market oligopoly was reinforced (McCourt & Burkart, 2003,334). The Big 5 media companies are global, large and multi-billion dollar companies. However, it seems that music sharing online still exists, which has implications for copyright legislation in the music industry. I do not think the free online music sharing is going anywhere. As noted consumers enjoy new media free and fast. This is indeed the benefit to online music sharing. Steinmetz and Tunnell (2013) identifies various motivations to engage in piracy which include: the desire to share content, to sample content, not being able to afford content and a desire to undermine copyright law and the content industry (56) .People will always have these desires and motivations. However, there are copyright issues and the music industry does need to make money. The term copyright is very broad nowadays. “Copyright now covers anything fixed in a tangible medium of expression and reaches anyone who makes a copy or other use of the original work” (McCourt & Burkart, 2003,338). This seems like everyone I know has had copyright implications. Indeed, copyright legislation is to protect the interests of large companies, such as record labels. I believe policy protection and legislation is necessary. However, with the expanding avenues of new media it seems very difficult to place restrictions, especially with the recording industry and piracy. I also believe there is difficulty with devising a legal or moral guideline on what is piracy. People could being “pirating” something and not even know it. The mention of service fees or monthly payments in regard to music online may seem feasible to some but not everyone. Today, people can listen to torrent music files often before CD’s are released. Thus, this poses a difficult problem for how music industries ought to respond to the piracy. Perhaps, ignorance is bliss and we all ought to remember that consumers of new media want it fast and free. One the other end, maybe if music industries and governments worked together to incorporate some type of education regarding piracy and a younger age this may combat the issue. I think people nowadays are so used to piracy online that it is not thought about and we may not see the consequences it does have. Until then, I think I will continue to download files for free (oops).


Photo From:

McCourt, T., P. Burkart. (2003). When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide:   Napster and the Development of On-line Music DistributionMedia, Culture & Society. 25 (3), pg. 333-350 

Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line PiratesDeviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67